SAN DIEGO – A decision made 2500 miles away from San Diego State University is sending shockwaves through the university’s community.
On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills released rookie punter Matt Araiza after a civil lawsuit named the former Aztec and two other football players in a sexual assault incident involving a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus house party in October 2021.
Students and fans had varying responses to how the Buffalo Bills responded to the allegations.
“I just think it was too soon, if it’s not like hard facts that my boy punt God did it, then it’s just way too soon,” Ced Ndondo-Lay, a student at SDSU said.
“Usually, I think you should not be punished until you’re proven guilty,” SDSU Student Ethan Deforest said. “It’s always tough in these cases.”
“I think it was reasonable that they let him go because I don’t think he should be in the spotlight,” Alice Donovan, a senior at SDSU, said.
The accuser’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, said he informed the Bills of the accusations at the end of July.
Gilleon said in a statement after Araiza’s release, “It was a no-brainer decision to cut Matt Araiza. It was just as easy a decision last week not to select him, at least not without conducting a legitimate investigation into the allegations. The Buffalo Bills ignored us, as though what I warned them would happen could be avoided if they just kept their heads in the sand. This is what enablers do. My client’s life was forever scarred in October 2021, but she handled herself with grace and dignity. Not once did she express to me a desire to hurt her assaulters out of revenge or hatred. She never asked for a pound of flesh. Her only ask was the kind of justice that might save other young women from the hell she experienced.”
“If he did it, it would be too bad because he had a whole career lined up,” Deforest said.
Araiza has not released a statement since the team released him Saturday night, but issued the following statement, through his agent, after he was held out of the preseason game Friday:
“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
“If this allegation against him is true, then it’s the end of his career and the end of a lot of things for him,” Cole Patterson said.
“Punt God is a GOAT so I think that like even with the allegations if he gets cleared and is okay, he’ll get picked up by someone because he’s freaking leg-a-tron and he kicks it super far,” Ndondo-Lay said.
Officials with the San Diego Police Department said they have finished their investigation and sent it over to the district attorney’s office in early August. The DA has not made any statements or comments on the investigation and has not indicated if charges would be filed or not.